tv France and Spain During the American Revolution CSPAN July 4, 2017 1:55pm-3:21pm EDT
7:00 p.m. eastern on cspan 3. authors discuss france and spain's involvement in the american revolution. arguing that colonial forces could not withstand the british army without french and spanish weaponry and soldiers. it contributed to the french revolution and later factored into the sale of french louisiana to the u.s. the national archives in washington, d.c. hosted this event. it's about an hour 20 minutes. americans advocating separation from great britain knew they had to have the backing of a major european power. and not just moral support but material in the form of money supplies and men. england's ancient rivals france and spain were the logical places to turn. from the earliest days of the war, benjamin franklin and other
american envoys lobbied the governments of france and spain. the american diplomats' efforts were rewarded in the 1778 treaty of alliance and the entry of spain into the war in 1779. arms and supplies from the spanish governor of louisiana aided the american cause and at the end of the war, the french army and navy made the yorktown victory possible. the stories are our nation's early days cannot be told without reference to the records here at the national archives. diplomatic correspondence, treaties, military commissions and more documents on the international side of the american revolution. the two authors we have with us will enlighten us about the
roles france and spain played in our country's formative years. so let's now hear from the panel. to lead the discussion today we're happy to have a professor of history at george mason university and the author of revolutionary backlash, women in politics in the early american republic. the author of brothers at arms, men and france of spain that saved it. and the author of when the united states spoke french, the professor of history at johns hopkins. most importantly, his parents -- are they here? if you've ever shopped at bread first on connecticut, first on burg. there it is. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our panel. [ applause ]
>> well, good evening, i'm rosemary from george mason university. and we're thrilled to see you all here tonight for this wonderful program. the first item of business is to let you know it will not be in french. so maybe you're disappointed but maybe you're relieved. in any case what we'd like to do first is have each of our authors speak to you for a few minutes about their books and give you a general sense about what they talk about in their books and we'll be talking among ourselves and try and give you a good understanding of some of the issues they sdpdiscuss. these are issues you may not
have thought about. when we think about the revolutionary period we tend to think primarily about england and the new united states. this discussion will introduce you to other dimensions of the conflict involving france and spain. so let's start with professor ferrero and he'll talk about his book, brothers at arms. >> thank you. in early 1776 britain was engaged in a war with america. and america, of course, was fighting for independence, but without gun powder, without guns, without artillery, without a navy. so it was only france and spain who were the historical enemies of britain. that had both the military and the naval strength to defeat the british, which is why we needed their alliance. they wouldn't ally with us if they saw it simply as a civil war. they had to be convicted that we
were fighting as a sovereign nation, as a separate nation. you can see john adams' quote up there, which i have to turn and read. that foreign powers would not engage with us until we had acknowledged ourselves as an independent nation. adams was fought knonot known a foreign entanglements. thomas jefferson said a declaration of independence alone would allow european leaders to treat with us. a declaration was not commissioned by congress as a message to george iii, he had already gotten the memo. he knew that the americans were fighting for independence. and the americans knew this. they also weren't sending the declaration for the american people, because the american people had sent their delegates to philadelphia to vote for independence. in fact, the document that is upstairs in the rotunda was
written specifically as a call to arms. and engraved invitation asking france and spain to come fight alongside us. now, when we started the war, we were bereft of gun powder, guns, artillery, i mentioned that. it was france and spain who first began to furnish all of these arms. even before the declaration of independence had been signed, a french merchant and silas dean, the american envoy in paris were negotiating for the sale of arms to come to the united states. and in late 1776, early 1777, large shipment of arms carried 20,000 guns and other
accoutrements that arrived just in time to supply the americans were about to face burgoyne at sarato saratoga. you can see the quote by caleb stark who was there, unless these arms had been timely furnished to the americans, he said burgoyne would have made an easy march to albany. so it was actually french arms which turned the tide of battle and of course gave the americans their first taste of victory, major victory at saratoga. in the meantime, there were volunteers from france and from other parts of europe who came to the united states. they came to fight the british, because that was where the enemy was. but along the way, they came to make the american cause their own. and washington came to depend
upon these immigrants who got the job done. as the musical hamilton so aptly portrayed. so from my right, this man became washington's right-hand man. the engineer, he planned the fo fortification and understood strategy and was able to help washington develop and deploy the strategic intent of the continental army. the continental arm fought as a professor army under the not so gentle gaze and lash of barren von streuben completed a militia and formed an army that could go toe to toe against the gritbrit.
of course lafayette, the best known of the group, ended up with an independent command in the southern theater. in those engagements he kept co cornwalis from going north. back in europe, there were two individu individual who were the most important characters in the whole story. to my right, was the french foreign minister. and of all the characters, he was the one who made most of the major decisions that concerned the alliances both between the france and the united states, and between france and spain. france and spain were allied through military and family
contacts. they had much different goals. the goal of france was to sufficiently weaken britain so it could regain the balance of power that it had lost during the seven years' war which ended just a decade earlier. in that alliance, was also spain. spain had also come out rather badly during the war, the seven years' war and they lost a lot of territory, including florida. so spain's primary goal was to regain territory. the french american alliance of 1778 brought france into the war for the first time. and what that did was bring most importantly the french navy into american waters. any war at this time with
britain was always going to be a naval war. remember, britannia ruled the waves. it prevented britain suddenly from having the kind of dominance it was used to to be able to resupply and move troops around. that knocked them back on their heels but it would not have been enough until the spanish foreign minister on my left who, as i mentioned established the spanish goals of recovering territory like gibraltar and florida to come into the war. and the entry of spain into the war a year later, 1779, fundamentally changed the nature of the war. from a regional clash in north america to a global conflict. and the combined spanish and french navies out numbered the british and they were overwhelmed. they had to defend not only their troops and territories in north american but their
colonies in the caribbean. they had to defend lands such as gibraltar and minorca even as far as away as india. meanwhile, back in louisiana, the governor of spanish louisiana, was supplying the american troops in the western theater with gun powder and guns and supplies. but as soon as war was declared in 1779 he launch a series of raids that brought down the british posts at mobile, natchez and baton rouge. but the goal was always pensacola, which was the capital of british west florida. and was the key to the gulf of mexico, which spain wanted to recapture. and after a few setbacks by a series of devastating hurricanes, in 1781, he launched a joint spanish/french attack
that took pensacola and got the british out of the gulf of mexico. which happened at just the right time, because right about then, the french commander came to the caribbean and asked the spanish to please guard the french colonies in the caribbean, remember, that's where the money was, sugar plantations in the caribbean. please guard those colonies from the british while i take my entire fleet north to the chesapeake. now, he was a fighting admiral. he was loved by his sailors. he stands 6'4" and 6'5" on days of battle. the americans learned he was heading to the chesapeake so they raced south to meet him and surrounded cornwallis.
he stood two inches taller than washington exclaimed general. it's a real story. by the way, since you asked, yes, he was one of the ancestors of the rock star astrophysicist, neil de grasse tyson. he was landing his feet when the british fleet under thomas graves appeared. he defeated graves -- or rather drove him off. and once that happened, british forces at yorktown could neither be resupplied nor evacuated and that sealed their fate. the story of yorktown is pretty well known. the troops were led on a short quick march, surrounded
yorktown, laid siege for five days. and that siege was directed by french officers, who also directed the trenches, the gunfire. and it was the french also lost twice as many men as the americans. so when charles o'hara, who was co cornwallis came out and saw it as a french victory. o'hara was directed to washington, washington would not take a surrender from somebody el else's second in command so he gave him to benjamin lincoln, his own second in command. the battle was over but the war was not. i just said the war was a world war. by the time yorktown was fought, britain was fighting five
separate nation states and they we were overwhelmed. all were fighting britain at this time. so in summary, during this battle, during this war, 200,000 french and spanish soldiers and sailors fought as compared with about 250,000 to 380,000 americans. they were as invested in this war as we were. so i want you to know america could never have won the war without france. and france would never have fought the war without spain. and what i hope all of you take away is this, that america did not achieve independence by itself. instead, it was born as the centerpiece of an international coalition, which together worked to defeat common adversary. and that's pretty much who we are today.
we are the centerpiece of international coalitions, striving towards a common goal. and that's why we repamain toda the indispensable nation. thank you. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> we'll have the professor talk about his book, when the united states spoke french. >> thanks, rosie. okay, oh, that's supposed to -- here we go. well, let me begin by thanking rosemary for moderating this panel discussion. it's terrific, it's an honor to be here also with larry and thanks to david and susan for hosting. it's really an ideal pairing, i think these two books. in many ways if i had written the book a little bit later i would have understood it as a
se sequel. >> i'm so glad you wrote yours first. i leaned heavily on it. >> i think it would have sold a lot more. as we have learned, the american revolution really was a french victory. i think that's fair to say. something like that. or at least i think it's fair to say that it was a french war as much as it was an american war. and maybe one of the things we can talk about actually is -- i've been thinking about this in reading your book, we need a new name for this war, don't we? in a sense, i mean, everything i talk about follows from what larry was talking about. just as the seven years' war led into the american revolution, so did the american revolution lead a decade later into another war, into the french revolution and napoleonic wars that lasted nearly a quarter century. now, there are lots of factors of causes of the french
revolution, probably a few things have been as studied as that one. but i think it's fair to say the debt left over from french involvement in the american revolution, everything you talked about was enormously expensive. wars are very expensive. and this left a crushing debt on the french government. it was that debt that was the catalyst for the french revolution. when the french revolution broke out, americans were thrilled. they could hardly have been more excited by the events. this was the most powerful monarchy in europe that had suddenly out of nowhere fallen to its knees. it was like a dream, i think, for people. it seemed surreal. it's hard to capture the excitement i think and the shock. you have to think of may of 1968 maybe, the fall of the berlin wall, the arab spring, president donald trump. all these astonishing unbelievable events. all of them wrapped up into this one spectacular moment.
best of all, americans thought they had started this all. in 1792 france became a republic and the excitement in the united states reached a frenzy. there were parades, marches, songs, toasts, people were marching in the street. january 17, '93 king louie xvi was executed and thousands of people fled, including many to the united states. so the book that i wrote was about five of these refugees who came to the united states on their american adventure. i thought using their stories would be a way of looking at early american history from a different perspective from slightly different eyes. now, i had originataled this as small project, something i could get over in a couple years. it quickly ballooned into something much bigger. >> two big books. >> it took me way beyond paris
and philadelphia. through london and into the caribbean and deep into the american interior. it grew beyond the five aristocra aristocrats, to include saves in haiti, native americans in the highw ohio valley. many of them were involved with the story i was trying to tell about these five figures. i don't have, you know, a whole lot of time tonight to tell you all about the book. i'll introduce you briefly to the five characters who structure the account and tell you three or four lessons i drew from the research that i did. and the writing i did. then we can elaborate on that as we talk it through and we'll have some q&a. so the first of the characters who i studied and the most famous is tallyrand, the former french archbishop. he would go on to become
france's longest serving and most famous prime minister. there was also lafayette's brother-in-law and he fought in the american revolution. he was the person who actually negotiated french terms at the surrender of cornwallis' surrender. in the 1780s after he returned to france he became a major figure. the third character was the duke, one of the wealthiest aristocrats of old regime france. as the master of the king's wardrobe it was he who burst into the king's bed chambers to
tell him of the uprising in the paris. is it a revolt? no, sir it's a revolution he famously relied. there was the famous writer and future senator. the last character was a lawyer and a historian who had been born in the caribbean and married into a wealthy planter family and gone to paris to enter french politics. these men were all aristocrats but they were liberal. they saw themselves following in the footsteps of the american revolution. they admired the new united states and the constitution that had been recently crafted. and they hoped to implement a constitutional monarchy in france that would look substantially similar to the u.s. constitution. and when the revolution began, they became its leaders. i think it's fair to say that had history taken a different path, they would today be considered the french republic's founding fathers. we'd be singing songs about then
maybe. that wasn't the path that history took. they were forced to flee and they came to the united states and settled in philadelphia. so as i say i don't have time to talk about the whole book. we have copies on sale outside. i'll make a few points here and talk about the most -- what i really took -- what surprised me as i did the research. it reinforced as i did the research on this book. and the first really builds on what larry was talking about, the kind of marginality if you think to think about it that way of the united states -- these aren't your words but i'll rephrase it. they came at the time when the united states was nothing like the power it is today. i think it really takes a kind of leap of imagination to understand the country as it was then, this weak fragile collection of 13 states. really puny power, riven by divisions, continually under siege by native and foreign powers.
today, the united states is a continental and even global power, but back then its sovereignty extended as far as the appalachian mountains. the heart of the atlantic economy was in the south, the caribbean. that was europe's main interest in the americas, the islands as larry was saying that produced unbelievable rich stores of sugar, coffee and all the commodities that were powering the european economy. it was to protect these islands, these french investments that france had intervened in the american revolution. that may have been the major reason it intervened in the american revolution. american harbors and ports were expected to provide naval bases for the french naval operations in the caribbean. american resources like lumber and wheat would supply the sugar colonies as just as they had been for so many decades supplying the british sugar colonies. so it was these kind of
geostrategic interests that motivated french. and these were the benefits french authorities expected to reap. using american harbors, american ships, american provisions to supply their colonies. it didn't work out as they hoped for reasons we can talk about. french revolution also quickly spilled over into the caribbean. shortly after revolution exploded in france, insurrection broke out in today's haiti. 1791 slaves in the northern part of the colony began a rebellion that soon turned into a revolution against slavery itself. under leadership. they fought off invading spanish force and the british navy. the americans needed france and spain to defeat the british. the haitians defeated the french, spanish and the british. the haitian revolution would
upend the atlantic economy and the labor regime and it would bring tens of thousands of refugees pouring into the united states. this was another lesson that was driven home powerfully over the course of writing this book, was the importance of the haitian revolution for american history in this period. i think it's impossible to tell the story of how the united states was transformed from this weak fragile power into a consnecon continental power without incorporating the history of the caribbean. and the last thing i learned is to think about philadelphia in completely different ways than i had before. philadelphia was the capital of the united states, and it's where the refugees i was looking at all settled. it was a different city then from what it was today. it was a population of about 40,000 people, which is roughly the size of an american university. not even in the top ten of american universities. but the city itself
geographically was tiny. virtually all population was huddled along the banks of the delaware river. it was a dense city of 17,000 people per square kilometer. much denser than manhattan today. to see that density you have to look to bombay today. thousands of french people poured into the mix mostly coming up from the caribbean. it's hard to assess exact numbers. i never was able to figure out exactly how many. somewhere between 3,008,000 french people came into philadelphia in this period. somewhere between 8% and 20% of the people which all of a sudden was french speaking. 40,000 people living in a area much smaller than a medium sized university campus. the arrival of these thousands of french people was a significant event. and these waves of refugees pouring into the city really altered its social and cultural
life in this period. french wine and silk and mustered began arriving from distant ports. merchants built grand houses and filled them with french furniture and tapestries. exquisite porcelain. the aroma of french food wafted through the stores. french revolutionary songs were performed nightly in the street theater and echoed off the cobblestones of the city streets. a woman who had studied with marie an twu net's hair dresser opened a salon. the french language rang out on philadelphia streets and its most refined social circles. french newspapers, bookstores, taverns, all shaped the city's cosmopolitan public sphere.
and so my five figures settled in this one philadelphia neighborhood. they lived together, ate together, socialized together and forged intimate connections with each other. every day he was in philadelphia, tallyrand would drop by in the evening. we opened out our hearts to each other. each knew the other's thoughts. tallyrand ate nearly every day at a dutch banker's house because he employed a french chef. there is only one dish. and it's a bad one, he added. so over the course of the research, i realized the 1780s and 1790s was kind of largely forgotten moment when the united states was most turned, the aspect, turned towards the world
and france. they had grown rich of trade with france and the french caribbean and it was into these circles that my guys socialized. and following them took me through philadelphia's elite salons and parlors and brought me in contact with the consnentconsnen continental interior, where they were investing in back country lands, a story that never occurred to me. eventually it brought me into contact with important issues bearing on the united states' relationship with the caribbean, and ultimately on the louisiana purchase or the louisiana sale, depending on your perspective i suppose. which was all tied up with events taking place in the caribbean. so the period from 1793 to 1803 witnessed what i think is a extraordinary transformation. where the united states had once been hemmed in between the
atlantic coast and appalachian mountains, its territory stretch today the rocky mountains by 1803. the country was on the way to becoming a great power. much like larry's story of the american revolution, all of these transformations can't be understood without reference to events taking place in europe and the caribbean and, you know, i think the point of these books is the extent to which american history is really so intimately tied up with these histories of other parts of the world. >> thank you. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> let me start with a question for both of you. i'm sure the audience is curious about knowing how each of you turned toward or found your project. how your own background or interests led you to this slightly offbeat path. >> go ahead. >> well, for me, it was -- so my
mother's french. and i always had a comparative advantage in terms of being able to read a foreign language, something very few american hist historians are able to do. but i wasn't, you know, interested in doing french history or even french inflected history as the united states. my first book was on george washington's image. like, as american as you can get. and it's less about kind of intellectual trajectories and more in my case, at least, about personal trajectories. i got a job at the university of montreal, which is a franco phone institution. in quebec and i was teaching american history, u.s. history to french students, to franco phone students. and i was in a department where there were only two of us out of 25 or 28 people who were working on u.s. history.
and in many ways this was really interesting place for me to be. i don't think i would have done this book if i had been teaching somewhere else where there were more american historians. i wanted to make connections with my colleague and students. i was trying to figure out something that would connect the period of american history i was interested in with france or the atlantic world. and, you know, and i guess it was also i should say a time when many historians were kind of expanding their focus. there was a move to internationalize american history. the path had been opened for me by a lot of scholarship, but it meant i was able to work in this field. you know too, make what might have been a sort of marginal account to -- it would draw the attention of other historians because it fit into the problems we were talking about at the time. so, you know, it's a combination of kind of the intellectual historical context and then the fact i just -- i wanted to do
something you know, sort of french inflected franco phone in a sense. >> larry? >> i came at it from a much different direction. i'm a naval architect by profession. i designed ships for many years. my wife is from peru, is why i learned spanish. as part of my job i went to work in their navy for several years in their ship design division and did a lot of research on the side. then, by the way, i would tell all my french colleagues because of course i had to learn french to work there is that i learned french for business but i learned spanish for love. my wife still likes that. so while i was there and our firstborn son, marcel, was born there, french name. i began studying the roots of my profession and decided to get my doctorate in history of
technology and look at the rise of ship building in the age of sail. that's what i was interested in. there i discovered that france and spain had worked together right after the seven years' war. they created a combined navy that was going to defeat britain. they did that by sharing ship builders and engineers and artillrists. and this all became part of my doctoral work. i knew going into it that they had combined their forces and it was that combined navy that really was the key to the defeat of britain. when my children were in school and i saw that france was barely mentioned in the story of the revolution and the spanish not at all. i began to wonder why there was a gap between what i knew and what i saw and when i kind of lobbed the idea to my agent, she said i think there's a story
there. and i said i think so. so i spent the next taking my kids up and down battlefields and encampments and in addition to the work that i had already been doing in the archives, found a much wider story than america had started in, you know, 1776, and you all know the battles. it was a world war. and, again, just to be very clear, any kind of war that anybody was fighting britain at the time, was always going to be naval war. so i got into the story in a large part because of my naval background, but also because when you're doing anything involving engineering, you're always looking at what the larger context is. why were they building? why were they building up this
fleet? which is a huge investment in manpower, in supplies, and there was a political intent to defeat britain and america was always going for france and spain, america was always going to be part of that equation. they always knew that america was going to be going up against britain at some point. it was a revolution they knew was going to happen long before we did as part of the goal. what i saw was a fleet that was built to create a -- what amounted to large coalition that would eventually defeat a common enemy. each one for their own reasons. and that's no bad thing.
because you are being altruistic. what i saw was three nations that had individual goals, but those goals had a common purpose and that's why they allied. that's probably much what we do today, just to be very clear. when we ally with other nations, we do so for our own interests. so i saw a lot of parallels between then and today. that's what got me into this. >> yeah. i mean, i think what's so interesting about this kind of approach to the late 18th century is that it wrenches us out of our traditional united states centered narrative and we see how interconnected america was with the rest of the world. and i think it's easy for a lot of non-historians to think globalization that's a 20th or 21st century invention or we didn't have world wars until the 20th century. and so what your work -- both of
your work does, is really help us see that these kinds of connections of people, of alliances, of geopolitics, existed for centuries, if not millennia. but one thing that i noticed, neither one of you addressed your remarks, obviously, had to be brief. but, you know, there was a lot of suspicion toward france and toward french people in america. because after all, before the american revolution, the people in north america was largely angloamerican. they considered themselves british. and france was the traditional enemy of britain. and there was also a very strong anti-catholic element. and so for each of your periods, i'd like you to talk a little bit about attitudes toward france, or the french that americans encountered. suspicion hostilities or opening, welcome with open arms.
and how you think it changed american attitudes toward france? >> should we do it chronologically? you make all the points that i found that the sentiment against the french, which was in part because they had been the enemy during the -- what we call the french and indian wars, it was called the seven years' war, was only a decade old. the memories were very strong. and the religion and all the other aspects meant that when the first french troops and volunteers were coming, they were not well regarded. nathaniel greene actually said these are so many spies in our camp. that's how he referred to them. but when the first battles, especially and i point this out at brandywine, erupted, things changed. the congress, washington, the other officers, really didn't
know what to do with these people. they were coming in, some of them quite brusque in terms of where they wanted to be placed. they were experienced soldiers. but there was no political way to insert them into the american military system, which was as much political because generals were chosen based on state more than they were based on their -- there weren't that many battles they'd fought prior to this. it was kind of hard to see who did better in battle. and that really made things quite difficult for the congress. but when the battle of brandywine and then a few subsequent battles were fought and they had to throw them into the mix, these french volunteers did quite well. in fact, i point out that one of them -- you may not know his name -- de fleury was an
engineer. and the civil corp of engineers now has a de fleury medal. it was these first acceptance that these french volunteers were equal to the americans in terms of how they could fight. eventually, they showed that they were able to contribute and contribute a lot. and they became -- i just said, you know, the emigrants who got the job done. washington relied on them. congress accepted them. by the end of the war, there was a real -- it was really coalition warfare in the sense that we kind of think of today. i give a lot of -- i spend a lot of room in my book talking about the relationship later in the war between rochambeau and
washington. rochambeau was always serving under washington. their relationship was one of equals. and the soldiers respected each other. but -- even after the war, washington came to rely on rochambeau's advice. he said we have lived together as brothers which is one of the reasons why my book is so titled. so this is something that if you've ever been in uniform, no matter who you're serving with, the bonds between people who are fighting in a common cause far outweight any differences that the nationalities might have cause for division. in my period that i covered, it
was more that band of brothers idea that brought the two together. then, of course, things changed. >> yeah, i mean there's this -- it's a really funny, you know, paradoxical relationship. it is french/american relationship. for a long time it was a british french relationship. they had been at war just ten years earlier like you were saying. they had been at war really for a century. the new england colonists had been fighting french settlers. and anti-catholicism was a big part of british, political culture and self-identity. and then the revolution comes along and all of a sudden they're all french. they've got pictures of the louie xvi. there are continuities as well. there's an undercurrent of anti-french or anti-catholic
sentiment that continues. it's not hard to activate these currents. it explains in large part the -- equally sudden transformation, i mean, the same kind of transformation in reverse that happens in the 1790s. when the french revolution breaks out in 1789 everybody is pro france. the last problem with france as an ally, is gone. now these are two sister republics. so the franco american alliance seemed stronger than ever. within five years, by the mid1790s, they're in a quasi war with each other. there's a huge falling out. i think that has to do with the kind of continuity of these anti-french sentiments. the other thing -- i mean, so it could be partly based on cultural i think, partly based on religion. but there was, you know, there was a french -- you know,
there's a tendency to view this falling out in a quasi war in the strong laws that emerged in the late 1790s which people still refer to today as an outbreak of anti-immigrants and anti-french paranoia. but i will say that there were some reasons to be worried about the french presence and french ambitions in north america by the late 1790s. part of that has to do with the ways french settlement had developed in the previous centuries. so the french had been -- you know, were never a settler colony, except with a small exception of the st. lawrence valley. most of new france had been a system of alliances between native americans and french settlers and traders and french military officers. long after france left the continent, these native americans continued to dominate
western regions militarily and many of these old french alliances existed. there was a scene in one of the books, where he's talking about being out west, he's in the west, and he seems -- hears someone speaking french. and so he tries to find out what it is and it's a native american. and it's the conversation and the indian says to him the americans they're our brothers but the french were our fathers. and there's a kind of -- there's a sense that there's this strong bond. french authorities are actually counting on this when they're looking to the west in the 1790s. they're counting on the old alliances to be remobilized. americans were worried about this. it's not a cultural thing, there was strategic reasons, the turn towards the anti-french
sentiment. it was the era of freedom fry and pouring out french wine in the gutters. there are some things that continue. >> one thing, though, during the period of time if i can jump in, the link between the militaries remained reasonably strong. it was during this period when the new nation had decided that it needed to have a professional army, even in peacetime. and so it was under thomas jefferson, a little bit later, that the idea of a military academy which had first been proposed by one of the characters i pointed out earlier, du porte was created at west point. and the first supervisors of west point were the first leaders of the army corp of engineers were french and they continued to maintain that
connection, many of the textbooks, much of the training and instruction continued to come over from there. and on the armaments side, we began to create a system of manufacture. i mention that we had no real capability of making arms. well, that changed when many of the french engineers stayed and they began to create factories. many more came during the period that you were referring to, most of you know about dupont and he was one of the family of dupont was one of the gunpowder manufacturers. and as they were able to impart their knowledge, the americans did what americans do best, we take what other people have and we change it and we create our own system out of it. and so the american system of manufacture, which became what we could today mass production, really began with many of the
french engineers and processes that had come over. and starting in the military, but then elsewhere. there were always despite the sentiments of perhaps larger parts of the population, there were always strands of connection that remain strong throughout this era. >> well, and there was, of course, the founding of the society of cincinnati which was an organization of american and french military officers who had served in the american revolution. and, i mean, this was a very visible and controversial sign of this continuing relationship. and the organization still exists, the building is, you know, right here in washington. and it's still a hereditary organization. where the membership goes to the first born son in france or in the united states. so, yeah, that was one of the continuing bonds as well. but, you know, one of the other
things you mentioned, larry, is that france and spain entered the war for their particular purposes, not because they were enamored of republic government. not because they were actually that sympathetic to the idea of the united states becoming an independent nation. but because they had their own strategic goals, with relation to britain, right? >> yes. >> and i think, you know, that continues, that sort of geopolitics continues into your period, and do you want to talk about fran twcois, the story ofw the united states got the louisiana purchase. i don't think it's widely known outside of historical circles. i think it's fascinating. >> so after -- as i said when the french intervened in the american revolution, they had ideas that this would help them. there was always the expectation
that france would be in war with britain before long. and there was a sense that in the next war, having the united states as an ally to france would be very useful for operations in the caribbean. they had been thrashed in the seven years' war in terms of their naval operations and they had lost sugar islands which they managed to get back. there's a sense the north american colonies in british possession make our caribbean colonies very precarious. our hold is tenuous. the french think that by detaching the north american colonies, not only would they weaken the british empire but they would strengthen their hold on the caribbean. because of the kind of diplomatic and military falling out that happened in the 1790s it wasn't working out this way. the americans and george washington with the outbreak of the french revolution declared neutrality. this was really a betrayal of the treaty of commerce which the
french signed. the french were expecting the united states to stand by their side. i don't think anybody expected them to send battalions to march against britain, but to provision french ships. to help man and repair french ships, to use these harbors, beautiful harbors along the coast against british warfare, which the united states systematically refused to do. many historians will say this was a very wise division by george washington, but it was not what the french had gone as the revolution expected. so they began to decide by the late 1790s that it would be important to have colonies of their own, french colonies of their own in order to maintain their hold on the caribbean. this was while napoleon became interested in louisiana.
it would serve all these purposes they were expecting from the united states, that is to say it would provide bases for naval support, it would provide supplies for the french colonies, that was why napoleon wanted. he saents a huge army over to take louisiana. the problem was that the caribbean from his perspective was the caribbean colonies were in outright revolution. slavery was undermined dramatically by the haitian revolution. and so in order to re-energize the sugar economy, he sought to put the freed slaves back into slavery. so he sent this army of tens of thousands of french troops, first to santa domingo. they would put down the slave revolution, put the slaves back into slavery and from there,
sail on to new orleans and take hold of louisiana. and you know it's very hard to imagine how the americans would have dislodged this massive french army from new orleans. so it didn't work out that way. it was the success of the freed slaves, the former slaves in defeating the french forces, more french soldiers diet d in haiti than in waterloo, the french army was defeated. once it was defeated, there was no way they could go to new orleans and hold louisiana. there wasn't much purpose for holding louisiana the purpose had been lost because of the caribbean colony. so it was the success of the haitian revolution that led to the louisiana purchase. it was at that point napoleon decided to sell this now-worthless piece of land to the americans. this is one of the great
paradoxes, the success of of the haitians in freeing themselves and fighting off the french that led to the massive expansion of american slavery into the cotton belt and the deep south and into alabama and the mississippi valley. and in a sense set the stage for the civil war. a few generations later. >> great so we can keep chattering among ourselves, but we'd like to open it up to questions from the audience. the microphones are either there or there. don't be shy. >> thank you very much, this is very fascinating so far, i really appreciate it i had a question about the willingness of the united states to you said that you know certainly we were interested in having france and spain as allies. we needed the gunpowder we
needed their assistance, we were thinking about it in terms of cost/benefits to the united states. i was wondering to what extent was the united states willing to make additional concessions to these forp powers. one of you had mentioned that spain was trying to recapture some territory in florida and certainly the french had additional interests in the united states as well. was any sort of discussion among the nascent american in like politics in the united states? and what we were willing to concede to these foreign powers? thank you. >> the alliance between, was always between the united states and france. spain did not formally ally with the americans. so there really were no treaty negotiations to speak of and certainly no concessions. concessions came afterwards, when they were debating about where the line of control on the mississippi was. but during the war, the treaty
of alliance and also the military treaty in 1778 primarily, there was the treaty of amity in commerce, which i think the -- said we will be nice to each other and we'll trade. actually it was based on john adams' model treaty, that was very specifically economic in nature. and that's what franklin had kind of gone over with originally, and the military treat treaty said very little that i can remember in 1778, about any concessions, about land, there was nothing in there, about we're going to pay for this or pay for that. this was not a transaction, this was a treaty. there's a difference. treaties are, i've got your back, you've got my back. so in this case it was america
agree that it would not end the -- fighting unilaterally, nor would it make a separate peace with britain. as far as france was concerned, it would not stop fighting until britain agreed to the sovereignty of the united states. so that, those were the terms of the treaty. and when spain, wrote the c codicil in 1779, the treaty of france, it stipulated that spain would not stop fighting until britain agreed to the sovereign to the united states. no direct alliance, but spain and france together said either we're going to be defeated, or britain is going to recognize america as and i pent nation.
>> did that answer your question? >> could you at this point mention that the biggest battle of the american revolution did not occur on american soil? because this place is now in the news again? >> so i was kind of surprised to see that the siege of gibralter which started the day after the treaty of otter was signed and didn't end until the treaties were signed, probably pulled in more soldiers and sailors from both sides, the numbers i saw were something like 60,000 spanish troops were arrayed around -- let me set the stage. maybe not all of you knew that gibralter had been british territory, even though it was physically attached to spain since 1704. i may have the date a little bit wrong. it had always been a thorn in
spain's side. for britain, this was a strategic point. because it of course guards the entrance to the atlantic and to the mediterranean. remember, britain is a naval power. britain's army was okay, but britain's navy was second to none. which is why gibralter was always that naval stronghold, which is why they fought so hard to keep it. and that battle raged, the siege raged for four years. and there was a battle that took place in 1782, i think september that was so fierce, the, there were something like one shell fired every three seconds and by the end of it there were explosions with mushroom clouds the same as you would see over japanese cities, 270-something years later. mushroom clouds rising over the harbor. this was just a fiercely-fought
battle and britain never gave in. and they came away at the end, still in possession. so this is why i've said one of the things, you said, rosemary, very well. we've had american-centric view of the war. but many of the battles took place well outside the view or even the knowledge of the americans. the britain really wasn't beaten as much as they were just overwhelmed. >> yes? >> i enjoy your comments very much. as i understand it, these five were refugees, after the french revolution took a more decided leftward turn. so what was their position in 1793, when the jeffersonians and their ill allies were urging that the u.s. give aid to france during the war on the continent?
did they just lie low? were they part of the game? what did they do when citizen jennae came over? >> the short answer is that they were lying low in this period. they had represented this kind of political center in france, a kind of centrist -- a kind of political liberalism, really. which collapsed. as the french revolution became more radical, as the jacobins and the jirodins took power. never gave up their sense of frenchness, if you want to think of it that way. they never came to the united states thinking they were going to stay. the only possible exception is nouaix, whose father was execute. they also understood themselves in temporary exile.
in the early years they were here in '94, '95, they don't seem to have had any kind of political ambitions. noaix was giving jefferson suggestions on operations or troop movement, for training, not for war purposes. they with go to -- washington had these levees, george washington had levees, they would go and social size, some them who had known washington earlier. and washington decided actually to answer the questions about jennae, which was when jennae came over as ambassador, and he didn't want these guys to have anything to do with washington. he feared that the french minister, that these guys were trying to sway the americans towards in the alliance with britain. that wasn't founded, that was unfounded that fear. but that was what they worried
about. and eventually washington acc e acceded to his demands. they socialized mostly in federalist circles. jennae was a good friends with jefferson and spent time at monticello and they had a long correspondence with jefferson, who later repudiated it. they were mostly in federalist political circles. their kind of closest political sympathies were with the federalists. but they never got involved in federalist policies. that changed by 1796, as did the falling out began between france and united states. there was no smoking gun or anything like that that i find. but a french person was passing information, kind of political information to the then-french ambassador, who jennae had been
expelled long ago and so they were understood to be in alliance with france at that point and there were some fears and not unfounded fears, vollnay was traveling in the west. it wasn't clear what he was doing. he was in the ohio valley. french officers were actually spies mo who were traveling along the ohio valley, along similar roots, looking at american forts and who were clearly drawing up designs for taking back this area. now i don't think ian kr kuhl was doing that and i don't think that vollnay was doing that. vollnay had to leave the county. because they were kicked out. they were about to be kicked out. so their politics, you know in a sense their politics may have stayed the same, but everything was swirling around them. french politics was changing so
dramatically. diplomatic relationships were changing. so i sort of see them as having not changed very much. in their own views, everything else changed around them. the old world turned around them. >> can i ask a question? >> yeah. >> okay. because i've always had trouble explaining the quasi-war with france. even after having read many things, can you draw kind of a straight line of what the events were that led to and why? and what caused it to dissipate? >> the franco-american alliance by this time had been really, it was in tatters by this point. so i'm talking 1797, they're really powerful anti-french sentiments that are emerging. there's french ships being captured by american ships in the caribbean. there's a sense, and the federalists who have always been
anti-french revolution since maybe not the very outbreak, but since 1791, anyway, they are mobilizing for war. they view that, they view anti-french political sentiment as their means to got back into power or to hold on to power, anyway. so john adams sends a diplomatic contingent to paris to try to negotiate some kind of peace. adams did not want war with france there were arch first alert ferrellists, including hamilton, who were mobilizing for war against france and they were, they were right. i mean this was their path to power. it's not the first or the last time that people would view war as their path to political power, or to hanging on to political power. and adams to his -- my editorial comment, to his great credit actually, did not want a war. he didn't think that the united states was ready to handle a war with france. and he was probably right about that. he september this mission to the
great despair of his political allies to france to try to negotiate a peace which was, with the foreign minister. tallyhat demanded bribes rather than negotiate peace. he, he was ungrateful. he misread the political situation in part from his experiences in the united states. so he radically misread this. so he demanded brides and two of the american -- bribes, american negotiators left in a huff. one tried to keep things together this is when there were the demands for war. so despite john adams, he had to accede and hamilton became general. washington was named general. this kind of weird moment, it was a quasi-war. the first, i think this is an interesting moment military history. i don't know, but i think this might be the first time there's an undeclared war, low-grade war and basically it's about a
military battles you know, on sea. but it's an undeclared war. there are some interesting parallels between the cold war later and the ways in which war is conducted. but ultimately, this, adams basically restains things. and tallenahn comes to his senses and goeshts a peace. it's basically naval operations in the caribbean with, ships being captured. the line between formal war and not, is unclear, because a lot of war, a lot of operations have to do with, you know this much better than i do. the private earrieprivateering, commercial ship chg are given letters which allow them to fight as a kind of defacto navy. so that's what's going on. it's privateering in the caribbean, which was going on. >> one little footnote, this is
when the dr. george logan of the logan act is a private citizen, from philadelphia. goes over and unilaterally on his own authority tries to negotiate a settlement with france. and after that, the congress passes this law. that has been invoked today. strangely enough. so see? history is relevant. >> he was a republican and he didn't want this war. he went to try to unilaterally, on his own accord, try to negotiate peace, it was not viewed well by the federalists for obvious reasons. >> we have a very patient questioner over here. >> i was wondering whether there's other narratives, of french perspective on this. and also the perspective of the native americans. let me start it off. this war that george washington had participated in in 1752, which was a disaster. >> actually started the war.
>> started the war. it was basically going into the ohio valley, and trying to take that land. as a result of that, the french and the indians defeated that operation, and some treaties came out of it. that basely cree stricted the expansion of the united states to the appalachian mountains. that allowed the french and indians to get along quite well in their relationships and kept the americans from expanding. after the american revolution, all bets were off. this was the expansion into the indian territories, the ohio valley. it was quite destructive to native populations. and also i guess it was a little upsetting as well to the french who thought they would have some kind of a the build-up of this underclad war, as the federalists up in new england
look towards canada that resulted in manifest destiny. which resulted in the burning of york, the capital of canada. kind of an america on its own, which led to the burning of washington, in 17 in 1814. i'm thinking that there must be also a different perspective, from the canadian point of view, the french point of view and from the native american point of view. how we can understand our current history, which is also continually spreading its values with, with well i guess with some military force, how you know we can, because we build on these ideas that it's all good to be a part of this expansion with represents. i i'm just thinking that maybe there's another way of approaching it. we've reached in fact, maybe the end of an empire.
>> so the prospective you're referring to native americans and the effect on them also also the enslaved people, the people of canada, are part of the as rosemary had said, the wave of historical studies, that have recast the revolution and its aftermath in new lights. now i can recommend the book i can think of from canada is in french and the name will come to me eventually. but for the other aspects you're referring to, the indian and others, i can hardly recommend. first buy my book and then buy his book. then by alan taylor's "american revolutions." you might want to also get a two for one discount with his
"american colonies." he treats very well the aspects you're talking about. "american revolutions" goes from about 17 -- actually precedes the seven years' war through to about 1820 or so and it talks about that sweep of history of which the american war of independence is one part and it's a civil war that continues and the drive into the ohio valley afterwards, displacing the native nations, all becomes part of that fabric. and it is quite well done. so i can't really answer the question because somebody else already has. is what i'm suggesting. >> i think from the kind of native american perspective, the revolution, long-term, was a catastrophe. the success of the american revolution that is to stay, had the americans not won that war,
who knows we're in the realm of fiction here. but you know, i think the they would have been in a stronger position. the iroquois mostly allied with britain, with the british empire. they had lockstanding alliances, but there were also obvious reasons for them to be supporting. only the oneida allied with the americansing, that was bad for them. i've come around to thinking that from a kind of general native american perspective, if i can posit such a thing, this whoeld period from the outbreak of the seven years' war until the war of 1812, which you were referring to in your question was one long war to maintain their territory. to keep the british and then the americans out of their territory. and ultimately a losing battle, a losing war. but there were several pivot points, several moments where things could have turned out
quite differently. one of them actually is when you were referring to, when the french and american side, the americans committed themselves to not negotiating a separate piece with britain. they broke that. they were not -- they broke that commitment. it's largely because they thought they were probably right about that, that the french were going to try to keep the ohio valley as neutral territory. neither british nor american. so the americans didn't want that. they got this concession from britain by negotiating a separate peace. from the canadian perspective, canadian perspective, i don't, it's a complicated question. because first of all, there is no canada until much later, this is really british north america. things get reappropriated. so not too long ago in the 200th anniversary of the war of 1812, there were attempts to call it canada's war. the government was mobilizing it. which makes me laugh there was no canada.
nobody was fighting on behalf of canada in retrospect it becomes canada's war. that is a moment another of these kind of pivot points when things could have turned out quite differently. the americans invaded canada, invaded british north america, upper canada and they could have taken it. they thought they were going to. in retrospect, in retrospect it becomes a moment where canadian solverty is established. where what's now considered canadian sovereignty. wasn't really contested but the americanspy that point had no interest in allies themselves in patriotic rebellions as they call them in canada. so that in retrospect emerges as the final last attempt. they thought the french settlers would rise up in alliance with them. it wasn't the case. these two things are very much tied together this attempt they
were continually pushing, wanting to push west. it was first pushing up against the french and then the british government. in the 1760s. and they never wanted these rye distributions and they were pushing up continuously against the native americans. it was the relentless push west that drove a lot of the early history. >> i don't want to leave spain out. i'm not going to into detail, the same forces were happening in spanish florida. as well as further to the west in what was then the vice royalty of new spain, which was today mexico up through much of the southwest and they were the same tensions there and quite often very rocky relationships so when you think about north america, it was a confluence of three large colonial powers, all
trying to push in the same directions. and the native american nations who were not, in any way, a monolithic set of nations, but many nations, a raid around the lands, were continually being forced into regions that they did not, traditionally inhabit, nor did they want to be in. so the whole history is starting to look less, and you're starting to see historians rethink this, less this relentless push west as much as it is pushing from the north. pushing from the east to the west and pushing from the south. what is always amazing to me though, is at this point, into the 18th century. three big actors, into playing
the roles pretty much around the whole of north america. fast forward just about 30 years, an there's a dozen or more independent nations suddenly in this territory that used to just be the battleground they've great powers, now it's a half-dozen or a dozen nations. trying to figure out where they're going to go from there. that was really the impact of this revolution and post-revolution period. >> so closing remarks? closing questions too the audience? >> we didn't let you know that there's going to be a quiz? >> in french. >> we'd like to remind you that both books are going to be for sale. both authors will be available for book signing, there's a 15% discount and we would invite to
when they finally start doing the draft, that's the last straw for, it's not just for the irish, it's for white working men, which was most of the working men in new york city. by that point. by the summer of 1863. they, the wages had stayed steady or real wages had stayed steady or gone down. but war-time inflation had doubled the cost of everything, the price of everything. they were not happy about the emancipation proclamation. it shifted the point of the war from, they had been told that they were going to fight originally to preserve the union. now they were fighting to preserve the union and free the slaves. which was something very few of them had any interest in fighting and dying for. and then the draft comes along and -- if they don't have a year's wages set aside to buy their substitute they're going to go. i think that was the final spark
that caused it. barnett, it's in your book, it's in somebody's book, i think it's yours, you could look at it more as a citywide workers revolt. the draft was the immediate cause. but grievances had been building up in this class for several years. located between the new museum of the american revolution and pinsd hall in philadelphia, the portrait gallery of the second bank of the united states houses more than 150 paintings of notable 18th and 19th century leaders, military officers, explorers, and scientists. up next, on american history